Agile is a Game: Make it a Good One

A good game has 100% opt-in participation, a clear goal, a clear set of rules, and a clear way to track progress. Scrum has the potential to be a very good game.

The Scrum goal is “excellent results”. The Scrum framework rules are well defined, and are available in the current version of the Scrum Guide. And keeping score in Scrum is simple. We inspect the results at the end of each iteration, during the Sprint demo.

So, what is the missing ingredient to the good game recipe?

It is: opt-in participation.

We typically just hatch Agile on the very people who do the work. Is it any wonder we get push-back?

Agile and Scrum in the typical company is just hatched on the participants without any airing of what they want, what they think and what they feel. This leads to all sorts of problems. No one likes being compelled to do anything.

People Need to Be Heard

At NewTech, when we help a company adopt Agile, we sell and follow this plan: we do some training, and then we describe the use of Scrum as an experiment.

We do some iterations, saying, “we are trying Scrum as an experiment… so, let’s try it and see” .

Scrum as Mandate

You say you want self-organizing teams, yet you diminish any sense of control (and related happiness) with these absurd mandates-of-practices. You are telling people  “…we are going Agile. Scrum actually. Concerned? Confused? Let’s not go there. See you at 10AM at the stand-up.” Ugh.

Scrum is a un-satifying, not-fun game when you hatch it on people. You create automatic resistance because you kill any sense of control. People have to get heard. That hearing tends to make your Agile adoption a lasting one.

Don’t hatch Agile on people without a hearing. Doing so diminishes happiness by reducing sense of control.

We typically just go along, and proceed to literally hatch Agile on the people who do the work. This creates resistance. The result:  difficult, half-baked and yes, failed Agile adoptions.